Obviously, our favorite tools are CNC-related, but every shop requires a number of machines and utensils that don’t run on G-Code. Here’s a short list of a few of our favorite tools that aren’t CNC (in no particular order).
Grinders come in a variety of flavors and sizes, but every shop should have one, or three. Here at Tormach, we sell an automated surface grinder (the PSG 612 Surface Grinder), which is great for flattening and finishing parts without having to do the tedious process by hand. We see lots of knifemakers and medical device manufacturers utilize the PSG 612, but really, this tool is great for any surface grinding application. Bench grinders are common in wood and metal shops to help get those stubborn burs and make quick-and-dirty changes to parts, as well as being used for polishing and finishing applications. Hand grinders are synonymous with metalworking – any stock image of metalworking defaults to a guy throwing sparks with a hand grinder. While not as robust as surface or bench grinders, these tools are still useful because of their versatility. You can take them just about anywhere and grind just about anything.
Dead Blow Hammer
Those bright orange hammers that sound like they are filled with sand are absolutely necessary in any metal shop. While they come in other shapes and colors, a dead blow hammer is great to knock metal components loose or knocking a workpiece solidly into place. That’s not to mention that a dead blow hammer can also provide force in a small space without having the kickback and marring that a traditional hammer would cause.
In the world of metalworking, precision is important. To be precise, things need to be level, flat, true, and/or derivatives therein, especially when you are measuring. When things are thrown off (even by 0.01”) at the early stages of measuring, it can cause huge issues once you actually get to cutting a part. A granite surface plate or table, like Tormach’s granite plate with an integrated tool hole for TTS, can provide such a flat surface to make sure things stay precise.
This stuff is an essential in the shop. Scotch-Brite can be used for everything from finishing parts to cleaning. Especially when it comes to rust, these pads provide an inexpensive and disposable way to get rid of rust and scaling. And, it can even be used for light deburring, if you want to just barely get rid of that sharp edge.
Often times you can buy raw stock that is cut to the lengths your parts require, but that can get to be an expensive endeavor – unless you’re lucky enough to have scrap that fits your needed application. A band saw allows you to buy stock in larger chuck – in bulk, if you will – and cut it to the lengths that you need. Some shops even flip the bill for an automated band saw, which saves both time and money by cutting a bulk piece of stock into designated lengths automatically.
Needle Nose Pliers
Every shop will have one or several sets of wrenches – we are dealing with machines after all – but surprisingly, a needle nose pliers can be just as important. When you’re cutting harder metals (sometimes even softer ones) – especially on a lathe – the chips can create a rat’s nest of metal. As safe as this pile of curly chips might seem, these chips can be incredibly sharp and dangerous, and challenging to pull off of the workpiece. Needle nose pliers give you a safe method to pull apart the knots of metal so you can get back to cutting… without drawing blood.